The Right Stuff
Aug 29 2008 By Rick Fulton
New Kids Reckon They Still Have What It Takes To Make A Return To The Big Time
THEY may not be very new any more and are three decades from being children but New Kids On The Block are back and causing quite a stir.
Sinking their own cash into the comeback is already paying dividends for the group, who, back in the Eighties, kick-started the rise of boybands began by The Monkees in the Sixties and reaching a peak in the Nineties with Take That, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC.
Two weeks after announcing their first US arena tour in nearly 15 years, the band, Donnie Wahlberg, brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre and Danny Wood, have sold more than 300,000 tickets, selling out additional shows at a rate of 6000 tickets a day.
Their first New York date sold out in just six minutes, Toronto in four minutes and a string of home town gigs in Boston in under 10 minutes.
On Monday, they release new single Summertime in the UK with album The Block out on August 8.
While the band, who had a string of hits such as Hangin' Tough, You Got It (The Right Stuff) and Cover Girl, are back, they are thrilled that they've re-connected with the fans, who are now grown-up and many now have kids of their own.
Donnie, who turned actor after the band split in 1994 and starred in films like The Sixth Sense and TV epic Band Of Brothers, admitted: "The true partnership in this reunion is not really us, it's us and the fans.
"We put up our own money to do this. We made a big commitment, but we needed our partners to come along, and that's the fans. They've put their faith in us to come back and do this the right way."
It's not the first time a reunion has been mooted. Back in 1999 MTV tried to get them back for the VMA, but Jonathan refused and in 2004 Joey, Danny and Donnie refused to reform for VH1's Bands Reunited.
But with Take That's comeback and the Spice Girls' worldwide tour, the band that started the dominance of boybands in the late Eighties, seemed an obvious moneyspinner.
The band were formed in Boston in 1984 by producer Maurice Starr as a white version of New Edition. The group was built around a then 15-year old Donnie, who built things up with his brother and his friends.
While New Kids were manufactured, this time around they wanted to do things on their terms.
Before the comeback, they went into the studio and recorded tracks with acts like Ne-Yo, Akon, Pussycat Dolls and Timbaland before they felt that the new music lived up to they hype of a comeback. So why now?
Donnie shrugged: "There's no real answer to why it's the right time. I think the right trigger occurred this time, which is the music.
"Leaping back into this for the sole purpose of making money or for nostalgia purposes wouldn't resolve any of my issues in my music life.
"There's a certain satisfaction I get as an actor that I hadn't achieved in my music life.
With some arm twisting, you could have got most of the guys to do it, but I don't think you could have got all of us to do it without music, and I certainly wasn't going to go down that road.
"I just know that, to walk away from what I was doing, it has to be for the right reasons. It has to be enjoyable."
While divorced father-of-two Donnie, 39, has become a successful actor, Jordan Knight, 38, who is married with two kids, had minor solo success with his 1999 single Give It To You. His brother Jonathan, a 39-year-old bachelor, turned his back on fame and became a real estate developer, admitting on the Oprah show he was clinically depressed after the band split.
The youngest kid in the band Joey McIntyre, now 35, has balanced Broadway success in shows such as Wicked with solo albums. He's married and had his first child last year. Finally there is 39-year-old Danny Wood, a divorced dad of four, who has had little solo success and even tried to create a new band with Dane Bowers from Another Level, Bradley McIntosh of S Club 7, Lee Latchford-Evans of Steps and Jimmy Constable of 911 for the MTV show Totally Boyband.
The subsequent band Upper Street's debut single The One charted at No.35 and the band soon split.
Like Take That, a reunion for most of New Kids couldn't come at a better time.
The first gig on their comeback tour is on September 18 in Toronto with UK gigs pencilled in for next year.
Although Donnie loves the fact the screaming girls, who are now calm mums, now invite the boys for a drink in the hotel bar rather than trying to get into their rooms, he does have regrets.
He said: "I have less hair now, but it's a good thing, because I had too much then. I wasn't sure what to do with it and one of my big regrets is looking at those hair dos."
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